We are happy to welcome Helen John to our Before & After series today. Helen is an active I Heart Faces Community member where she regularly participates in Fix-it Fridays, a photo editing exercise offered to the community each week. Today she will be sharing her Lightroom workflow on one of her beautiful newborn images.
Creating Creamy Newborn Skin in Lightroom
Baby C slept like a champ for his newborn session, which resulted in tons of gorgeous images. The sweet little boy came to my home for our session, where I use a studio set-up with a mix of on and off camera lighting. This shot was taken using my 24-70 L lens, and my settings were ISO 100, 30 mm, f/2.8, 1/160sec. I edited this photo exclusively using Lightroom 3, which I use primarily for my simple, clean photo editing process. This is the original image:
Step 1 – Exposure
Since the image is a little dark, I ﬁrst adjust the exposure, adding almost 1 stop (.90) and add a little ﬁll light (.14) to brighten it up.
Step 2 – Skin Tone
Next, I adjust the white balance a tad until the skin tone is right. This makes the image slightly cooler and less magenta – read: the skin color less orange and pink. Newborn skin tones can be tricky, especially if they have a touch of jaundice. Trust your eye, and if necessary, come back to the photo after youʼve left it alone for a bit and can look at it again “fresh.”
Step 3 – Spot Removal
Newborn skin tends to have lots of little blotchy patches, acne, peeling, etc, so the spot removal tool is your best friend. This baby boy happened to have amazing skin, so he only needed a few touch ups. I set the tool to ʻhealʼ and try to keep the spot as small as necessary to remove the imperfection. Sometimes you have to play with it a bit to get the skin to look right, and itʼs easy to move the circle to a different place to ﬁnd a spot that makes the most natural looking replacement for the blemish. Here, Iʼve had to remove some red spots from the face and body, as well as the marks his diaper left around his bottom. I also used the tool in two of the corners of the photo – dadʼs shoe in the upper left and my real ﬂoor peeking out in the bottom left.
Step 4 – Skin Smoothing
Since we want a newbornʼs skin to look as creamy and smooth as possible (without looking plastic), the next step is to select the brush tool. Then, from the drop-down menu, select ʻSoften Skinʼ and begin painting over the areas of skin you want to even out. I add more clarity in images where the skin begins to look unnatural, but in this case I left it at -100. The red shows you exactly where youʼve made changes with the paint brush.
Step 5 – Contrast
Instead of adding contrast in the “Basic” tools section, I scroll down to the “Tone Curveʼ section where I can control these elements more precisely. For this photo, I added +17 to the highlights, +24 to the lights, and decreased the shadows by -19.
Step 6 – Crop
I select the cropping tool and adjust the photo slightly so that the crib is closer to centered. Lastly, I add a subtle vignette (-62) to highlight the subject.
That’s it! Here’s the before and after photos side by side:
Helen John specializes in modern baby and family portraiture and is located in the DC Metro Area. When she’s not busy chasing around her two wild boys, she strives to capture the authentic interactions between families and the precious connections within each relationship. Be sure to check out Helen’s website, blog, and visit her on Facebook or follow her on Pinterest.
Now it’s your turn!
Join us in our free Photography Community tomorrow for Fix-it Friday. At that time you will be able to download a high-res version of Helen’s beautiful photo, edit it in your own style, and share your results with the other members in our forum. Not a member of our I Heart Faces Community? Click here to join!
Don’t Miss Our Ultimate Newborn Photography Guide. An amazing FREE resource for all photographers!